The Roots

Home Grown! The Beginner's Guide to Understanding the Roots, Vol. 2

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Just like Vol 1., Home Grown! The Beginner's Guide to Understanding the Roots, Vol. 2 suffers from its title's misrepresentation of what's inside. You might understand the poignant groove crew a little better after taking in the two volumes' 160 minutes, but what could have been a tight collection that really benefits the beginner is blown up into two separate releases with languid and long liner notes more suited for the familiar fan. Taken that way, both of the sold-separately volumes add up to a great way to hang and remember, with unreleased cuts and remixes sweetening the deal. Vol. 2 is a shade better than Vol. 1 if only for the inclusion of the band's excellent appearance on Gilles Peterson's BBC radio show. The "Seed/Melting Pot/Web" medley pulled from the appearance is absolutely necessary for the believer, plus getting The Tipping Point's uplifting interpolation of George Kranz's classic "Din Da Da" on its own track -- instead of having to fast forward past all the silence to find the "hidden track gem" -- makes putting your own great Roots comp together all the easier. Buried amongst the credits is the album's excuse for being so unwieldy, claiming "to truly understand the Roots as artists and as human beings you must exercise one character trait: Patience." That's too true, since the band's discography still lacks a tight introduction as of Home Grown!'s release, but capturing the essence of the group on one CDR would be an easy task for any longtime fan. All their selections would most likely be found amongst Home Grown!'s two volumes, but conceptually this beginner's guide gets too bogged down with insider-focused liner notes, a track list that counts down instead of up across two volumes, and too much patience required. If you want a two-volume portable selection that flows well, contains some exciting, unheard numbers, and eventually gets around to all the big cuts, have at it. It's a great way for the converted to submerge themselves in sprawling world of the Roots, but putting "beginner" on the cover is like telling a Beatles neophyte to start with the White Album.

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